A debate on the actual and future needs of improving the policies that support the development of thermalism, health prevention and balneary tourism in Centru Region, Romania, took place in the thermal city of Ocna Sibiului on 12 of November 2019.

 Members of the InnovaSPA stakeholder group, specialists in thermalism, spa resorts owners, researchers, representatives of tourism sector and regional policy makers gathered together in the thermal city of Ocna Sibiului, aiming to discuss about the current and future needs of balneary tourism and all other types of tourism development in Centru Region.  

 The meeting represented a good opportunity for the participants to highlight the potential of natural resources in their areas, to discuss about their needs and to take part in the policies development process designed to support the balneary sector, tourism sector and other tourism related sectors. 

 The main objective of the meeting was to bring together different representative of local/regional organizations and stakeholders from the balneary and tourism sectors and to provide an appropriate framework for setting up priorities and collect project ideas on which the allocation of EU funds in the next programming period will be based. The discussion focused on the needs, the problems and the bottlenecks of the balneary tourism in Centru Region.

 The main problems and challenges identified as a result of the discussion, were:

  • Lack of qualified personnel; 
  • Lack of an inventory of natural resources;
  • Insufficient research in balneary sector;
  • Lack of collaboration between decision makers in the field;
  • Lack of alternative services as playgrounds, leisure places, etc.;
  • Lack of national health programs with spa component (sports medicine, oncology, psychiatry, gynecology);
  • Insufficient development of public infrastructure (transport, technical-urban, social, educational);
  • The need to update the master plan for spa tourism;
  • Elaboration and correlation of the strategies for the development of the spa tourism at all levels;
  • The need to create an online platform to increase accessibility to the spa services;
  • The need for a spa tourism brand at regional level, brands by type of pathology;
  • Segmentation of spa tourism by types of pathologies;
  • Acquiring good practices from other countries with spa traditions;
  • Writing specialized guides;
  • The need for awareness campaigns on the efficiency of the use of natural factors. 

The measures proposed by the participants in order to face these challenges will be used as basis for the elaboration of the Regional Development Strategy 2021-2027. This information will, also, help setting the priorities for the balneary tourism development in the programming period of 2021-2027, and the types of interventions/measures that the local and regional actors are prepared to support in the period 2021-2027. 

The discussions, the ideas, the measures and the proposals of the participants at this event will help us to better identify in InnovaSPA partner regions/countries, good practices that could be transferred in our region in order to inspire or improve the policies that support the development of health prevention and thermalism.